Home  >  119 Communication  >  119.069 Communication - Empathy first, feelings second, needs last

Empathy first, feelings second, needs last

It is important to listen first. Understand first, and make sure the other person feels like they’re understood. Do this by paraphrasing your understanding of what they are feeling and saying. If possible, they should confirm that I got it right or correct me. (Which requires another round of paraphrasing.)

Then, if still necessary, tell the other person how I feel, and state my needs in clear unambiguous terms. If possible, ask them to confirm that they heard and understand me.

Q: “Why go through this? I’m bad at this. This feels weird. Men shouldn’t talk about their feelings!””

A: It’s not some new-age Californian feel-good bullshit :) It’s just a plain practical and effective way to get what I want: connection, peace, productivity, curiosity.

The root of almost all arguments, differences, bad feelings, broken relationships, is simply that the two parties are not feeling heard by the other person, not getting their emotional needs met. If I can do my half of the work and meet the other person’s emotional needs, I almost always get my own needs met in the process.

Previously named: “116.094 Life Lessons - Empathy first, feelings second, needs last”


    Marshall B. Rosenberg